Friday, January 30, 2009

8 weeks! Our quest...

8 weeks, really?

Well, we've spent much of this eighth week trying to capture our daughter's smile on film. Wow... either she'd get deadly serious the moment the camera came out (after smiling, smiling, smiling) or every shot would be blurry. We have some hilarious shots from the process.

Most of the time our daughter becomes intensely serious when the camera comes out. Exhibit A:

Aww... was hard to pick which serious shot out of this series to post! Will have to update facebook, I guess. Isn't that outfit cute?! I forget who gave us the penguin onesie; feel free to pipe up if it was you! But THANKS! Sooo cute. It was icy one day here and actually snowy the next so she had to wear the penguin! That was that! And I so hoped to capture penguin plus smile, but... not in that photo shoot, no siree! Before we move on to other exhibits from our eighth week quest, what is it with the similarity in appearance between babies and old men? Not all the time, surely, but frequently Caroline takes on a facial expression that is seriously "old man"; Kevin is even convinced she does a Dick Cheney impersonation. SCARY. Haven't captured that on film either. But that's just fine. And now her hair... it is fuzzy and sticks out every which way... Kevin labeled it "Old Man Hair". Yup, basically. What's up with that?!

So, we tried and tried and we got closer and closer... some attempts from along the way...

nowhere near a smile, but a sweet picture, no?

This series is hilarious too! Must update facebook...

umm... seriously, gorgeous smiles all around the time this picture was taken, this is... entertaining...

cute, but... not really a smile.

Here it looks like she's messing with us, no?

Finally, today, as we landed solidly at 8 weeks... we did it! Though these still don't capture the beautiful radiance we're blessed with so much more frequently these days.

Kevin thinks this looks fake, but hey, it's real! And he caught it!! Yay, daddy!

She's doing GREAT. It feels like the crying is calming a bit, or at least as if there is more range to her vocalizations now. There are quiet cries and squawks and various other degrees of verbal self-expression. As opposed to just 0- quiet alert or 12- red faced and screaming. She is awake more often, but sleeping well, frequently, and sleeping a bit longer too, when she sleeps. She has taken to making little clicking sounds with her mouth, often when being changed. It is adorable. Changing time (formerly a miserable experience for her) has become delightful most times. She watches the colorful decoration hanging from the ceiling as it spins round and round. She makes faces at us, smiles at us, makes happy noises. She lets us (especially Kevin- who always asks her nicely for her permission first) bring up her knees repeatedly to help move the gas out. Good stuff.

Katherine, finally in this eighth week I started the journal. I'm leaving room for Kevin to journal too. It is beside the glider and I'm trying to feed more there, and write while she eats. I've captured some birth memories in this precious gift you gave us, thank you!

Biggest news here, perhaps, is that Caroline got a new dresser this week. We ordered one off Craig's List, but discovered, too late, that it reaked of smoke. Blech. Katherine and mom made valiant efforts to eliminate the odor, and it is better, but... not gone. And I really don't like my baby's clothes smelling like smoke, especially considering neither of us smoke. We found a great deal on-line on a new dresser and used some of her gift money to get it. Such a relief. Kev is hard at work assembling it. When the nursery is finally all together, we'll post pics, I promise. Twill be awhile though. We're much closer. Soon to be even closer.

Anyone interested in a smokey five drawer dresser? Name your price!

The baby though? She is NOT for sale! So in love with her am I... are we... SO in love.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Surprising Things

  • Exponentially increased need for and use of batteries- From the occasional battery for a flashlight and a set of recharge-ables for the camera, to... the mobile (which wears down quickly), the swing, the colic pad (again, quickly), the sleep positioner, the baby papasan, oh and what else am I forgetting... batteries, batteries, batteries.

  • Poop is THRILLING- We wait eagerly for poopy diapers. NEVER imagined that.

  • Washing cloth diapers fine- No big whup. Really.

  • Mundane things distressing; distressing things mundane- For our baby I mean. To be specific- she HATES sleeves, sleeves of all things! Putting something over her head, that I could understand to be distressing, but that typically doesn't phase her, but putting on or taking off sleeves... oh goodness. Taking her temperature rectally, picture of mellowness. Hunh?

  • Lightning fast mood changes- Truly impressive, really, the rate at which our sweet thing's mood (and corresponding facial expressions) can change and, for that matter, how mysterious the triggers for these shifting moods can be.

  • How intense and loud such a little person's screaming can be- I've written about this before- and to clarify, she doesn't cry anywhere near constantly, little bursts from 5-20 minutes scattered throughout the day, she is able to be consoled almost always! This isn't colic. What is surprising is how intense it can be and how quickly she gets to totally cranked up. I mean this is some impressive stuff.

  • How calm we remain when she is so intense- Again, I've written about this before, but really it shocks me. I distinctly remember more than one occasion of being in a public place with an intensely crying baby and being so distressed, wanting to fix it, but not being able to, and it ruining my night. I also remember babysitting for intensely crying babies and not being able to calm them and how horrible that was. I guess the difference is that I can breastfeed this crying baby, and that almost always helps, but also... I don't know... I'm more peacefully able to accept her as she is, however she's feeling, and this is new to me, not internalizing another's distress, especially the distress of someone I love so dearly... this is NEW.

  • Difficulty distinguishing between mommy/daddy farts and baby farts- Seriously, who would have thought that could be challenging?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Seven Weeks

We didn't take any pictures this week until today. And... most of the pics... not share worthy. We really want to capture her beautiful smile, but... we have been foiled in every attempt.

A colleague last night said that his daughter reached the peak of her crying between six and eight weeks. It backed off after that. That would be nice. She had an angry week, more red faced, tears streaming, exhausting all breath moments than ever before.

But I also said last night that if I ever imagined my baby crying so intensely I would have been terrified, but... in real life... I just love her so fiercely, it is not so bad. We wish she were at peace more of the time, but however she is, she is our beloved child. And we will love her right through it. And as we talked about this with friends tonight Kevin commented that it is easier to handle the intense screamy times because she is not like that all the time; this is absolutely not all of who she is. So we take it in stride because it is part of who she is, and we love all of who she is.

The sweetest, funniest part of her serious crying times are when I put her on the breast in the hopes it will calm her down (it almost always does). She often latches on right away, but grunts a bit, angrily for the first 10 seconds or so as if to say "I'm still angry. I just want you to know that." And then she becomes totally absorbed in eating and all we hear is gulping and sometimes squeaking. She used to squeak all the time when she ate. Now just sometimes, but often in these times.

Funny story from Caroline's seventh week, last night was a pretty long night. She gets into these moods sometimes where she won't stay latched on for very long when eating, BUT she wants to be latched on. She'll suck for a bit and then will pull off (often dramatically) and then will fuss until I help her get reattached. This gets OLD in the middle of the night (it gets old during the day, but it gets really old in the middle of the night). She was in one of those moods last night and after what felt like an endless session of it I called to Kevin.




"Uh.. yeah?" sounding remarkably awake.

"Caroline has been pulling off a lot. I think she needs to be burped and changed."

"O.K." Silence. Moments later- snore.


"Yes," again sounding remarkably awake.

"Will you please burp and change Caroline?"

"Yeah." And then I hear rhythmic tapping.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm burping Caroline."

"I HAVE Caroline."

"Oh, I thought I did."

And then he got up and burped and changed Caroline, who then returned to her on again/off again nursing for what felt like

Monday, January 19, 2009

How much has she grown?

We retired an outfit already... it was the lovely green striped one gifted by classmates Carolyn and Kelly. Kelly, apparently, upon seeing pictures of Caroline in it declared it a "boy outfit", but WE LOVED it... and as the favorite color of Caroline's namesake was green it was perfect for her early days. This, the necessity of retiring an outfit, and other things made us SUPER curious about how big our little girl is and so we were excited to go to her six-week checkup today and the answer is... drumroll please...

2 inches and 2 pounds in the month since her last appointment!

Well actually just over 2 inches (2 and a quarter- she's 23 inches even!) and just under 2 pounds (1 pound, 13 ounces- she's 9 pounds, 14 ounces now... just shy of 10!) Her head has grown by a centimeter.

She thoroughly impressed her doctor- gaining weight well on breast milk alone, good eye contact, good social smile, good "talking"! And her doctor thoroughly impressed Kevin.

We've decided on her alternate schedule for vaccinations so they won't start until the next appointment in a month. Not looking forward to that, but the curiosity about growth and our appreciation of the doctor will still make the appointment something to look forward to.

Hey, is anyone still out there? I've never had so few comments on photos before! Not that I'm fishing for comments, just wonder if a lull in posting made you all disappear.

One more thing... I made some progress on writing up Caroline's birth story. Still a ways from done, but getting closer... if I write a bit more every Sunday I should be done before she's 1! I'm so glad we were blogging through it all... helps the memory substantially.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

the post that should have landed here

I got done writing this post over on the other blog, it was placed there because I thought it was going to be about W.W. and knitting, but when I finished it I realized it is all about baby... so... I'm cross posting it here.

Yesterday we hit six weeks postpartum which means... safe to rejoin Weight Watchers. And I did. Easy as pie since I am a lifetime member and Kev found my old membership book so that I had a number to prove it. The number on the scale... not so easy to see. I am basically back to where I started in 2001, but... for good reason. And... I'm back on track. And WOW do you get a lot of points when you're my size and breastfeeding. I CAN DO THIS.

My plan had been to bring Caroline in to WW with me in case she needed to eat. I think she's going through another growth spurt. She is eating constantly it seems. But she ate before we left and was deeply asleep by the time we got to WW. Kev was going to run some errands so he offered to bring her with. And... she slept right through it all. She was sound asleep still when I got done with WW.

We needed to pick something up at Babies 'R' Us (which is super close to WW) and Kev offered to stay in the car with our sleeping beauty. But we were going on 2 and a half hours since she had last eaten and as she had been eating practically every two hours like clockwork I said "No, let's bring her in. There's a great room for nursing and changing. I'll do that. I'm sure she needs to eat."

And indeed she was one VERY hungry girl, but she got to the boob before getting upset and I managed to alternate feeding and changing and even did some clothes changing while feeding and kept her pretty content (just a bit of squawking in putting on sleeves- she hates sleeves). We bought environmentally more friendly diapers and got on our way.

And by the time we came home she was again sound asleep. I had wanted to go to knitting circle this afternoon if she was in good space and sound asleep (with a bottle of pumped milk at the ready) seemed like good space. So I went, and checked in every hour and she slept for nearly four hours! I said I thought she was going through a growth spurt and this confirms it! I was only gone 2 and a half, but I got home just after she finished the bottle and was ready for more . I was more than ready to feed her, perfect arrangement.

We've been invited to a party tonight and think we'll go for a bit. Yes, this has been a good day.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Random Pics from Caroline's sixth week

Caroline in her bear suit after one of her many trips out in this cold week (even we think it is cold so folks from the south are DYING!) Rebecca, fabulouso seminary roommate went to Babies 'R' Us with me when she was here over Thanksgiving and said "SHE NEEDS THIS!" and pulled it off the rack. She was right! We have used it a lot, to good effect and great admiration. Caroline is lying, by the way, on her changing table, in her nursery which is now fully functional and is the site of all her changes during the day (when we're home!) The changing pad, like so much baby stuff in our lives, is also courtesy of Rebecca's household. Thank you dear friends.

This was daddy's first try with the sling and he had to give Caroline a finger to suck on to calm her down, but... eventually she fell asleep as you see here. Evidence of more progress. And isn't it a sweet picture?

She sleeps in her crib! During daytime naps (when she isn't sleeping on us! This is also a sign of the progress this sixth week has held. She has taken some LONG naps in there. The first pic is of her on the boppy. She fell asleep on me on it and Kev couldn't bear to take her off it. He filled in the gap on it and we checked her regularly and she was FINE despite the fact she wasn't on her back on a hard surface...and it did make a sweet photo. The blanket she was wrapped in used to wrap up Mama V's boys and it was made by a mutual friend of ours Thanks, Mama V, for sharing it. (Too tired to link, sorry.)

This last pic is actually one of the first taken this week. I wanted to get a pic of Caroline in this cute little dress I once wore, but most of the pics she's cranked up to 12. This isn't a great pic, but it's the only one where she doesn't look totally distressed.

No pics of mommy this week. Oh well. I think I'll feel more pic worthy in about a month.

several close-ups from our daughter's sixth week

Six Weeks!

For the last 48 hours or so I've been thinking, "Six weeks ago I was..." fill in the blank with any of the myriad activities that filled our LONG labor. Oh wait, most of you haven't heard the WHOLE birth story, and I started to write it, but... somehow stopped... maybe on Sunday I'll resume. That seems like it would be a good sabbath activity. But let me just give you one example. Last night after choir at church number two I said "six weeks ago right now I was pushing..." and of course that would be true for the next several hours too! The choir director has a one year old and he and I talked about how crazy time is and how it takes becoming a parent to realize it (or at least for us it did). I cannot imagine a time without Caroline and yet it seems like a breath ago that she arrived.

She is not an easy baby. But... oh my goodness she is delightful and utterly lovable... and I KNOW that she is exactly the child we've been waiting for for so long.

Kevin says with her the dial is set on 0 or 12 and there's nothing in between. It is pretty true. EITHER she's sleeping peacefully or quiet alert, soaking up the world around her, and lately flashing the most brilliant, charming smiles at us- and often waving her arms about in fascinating movements- OR she's screaming, truly, screaming. We are practicing attachment parenting. We use all 5 s's from The Happiest Baby on the Block and sometimes they work brilliantly to calm our little girl. We have used gripe water and a colic pad- both of which also help. But when she gets angry she gets ANGRY. No whimpering for our little girl. Contentment or Rage. I feel badly for her. I want her to be comfortable and to know that all is well, she's safe and provided for, and we hold her through it... love her through it... sing her through it... we're doing all we can. But it isn't awful... it is just how she is. I take it as a sign of her strength and love her for it.

The GREAT news is that six weeks in some things that used to make her scream don't necessarily any more. Lots of diaper changes are peaceful or even smiley now. And this morning we had a completely peaceful bath! Kevin keeps praising her for how adaptable she is and she is. And some day the unexplained triggers for screaming will fade too... I trust.

It isn't colic- she doesn't cry continuously for three hours straight, three days a week or more. It is somewhere between happy baby and colic.

We had a good night last night. I don't remember anything from 11-4. Kev doesn't either. I think I fed her in my sleep and she faded right back to sleep. (Jonathan, she is often in our bed or in the co-sleeper right next to our bed. I think it will be this way for awhile.) Five hours of what might have been semi-continuous sleep BUT with our daughter gaining nourishment when needed? SCORE!

I am TOTALLY in love with our daughter. TOTALLY.

Six weeks... WOW.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

on not knowing what time it is

typically i ask kev what time it is when c initially wakes in the night, but not when she/we get(s) back to sleep. typically if she is having an angry/painful night wher she needs more than milk, kev takes over walking with her, bouncing her, speaking soothing words to her. this is the first angry night in awhile (possibly a full week- last one i remember was last saturday night) and c and i got naps yesterday, k did not. so i offered to be on baby soothing duty, i think this round of baby care began at 1. so imagine my shock when i opened the computer a little while ago and discovered it was nearly 4 a.m. it is MUCH better to NOT know the time.

that was certainly true when i was pushing.. if i had had any clue how long i had been pushing... i think i would have given up.

that said- even in the middle of the night my girl is wholly endearing, think we'll be able to go back to bed soon.

Friday, January 9, 2009

5 Weeks Old! Goodbye, Mamie!

Tis a bit of a sad day as we said goodbye to Mamie today. We've grown rather accustomed to having ann extra loved one around, first Aunt Katherine for so long and then Mamie for an exceedingly productive and blessed two weeks. The house seems so quiet and still with just the three of us. We'll miss having someone who loves Caroline fiercely to nuzzle her for an hour or two in the early morning to allow me some extra sleep. We'll miss all the massive help. We'll miss having another person to ooh and ah over the impossibly cute things C does. We'll miss the encouragement that we're doing a good job as parents in the midst of long and/or intensely angry crying jags. Yup. It is hard to say goodbye.

That said, it is sort of exciting to begin this journey of parenthood just the three of us. Three of us! Wow... for so long we waited and wanted. And the moment is here.

Caroline and Mamie in the nursery Mamie worked so hard on while here. Caroline was rather sad and so required loud shushing in her ear to calm her.

A bit more of the nursery is visible in this one... not so much the crying baby.

Two mothers with their first born daughters.

Saying goodbye at the airport. So sad...

pics of the progress

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Making Progress...

We are blessed to have several wonderful baby carriers, three of which can be used even with very small babies. I'm devouring Dr. Sears' Baby Book at the moment and one of his principles of attachment parenting is "baby wearing". He (a pediatrician and a father of eight) and his wife (a nurse and a mother of eight) are BIG fans of the sling. And so am I... in principle. I love the idea of having my baby close to me as much as possible, but having free hands for the various tasks of life. Only problem... Caroline has NOT been a fan. Our first several attempts with the sling she SCREAMED, no matter how we positioned her, no matter if I moved, bounced, gave her something to suck on. And speaking of sucking... one of the virtues of the sling is supposed to be that one can feed hands free and discretely. But she REALLY hated eating in the sling.

Note that I was using past tense above, because... over the past three steps we've been making baby steps of progress in the baby wearing department. One theory about Caroline's dislike of the sling was that she has her daddy's internal furnace and she was overheating. So we tried putting her in the sling in just her diaper (after she was fed, changed, burped and very mellow- note we tried the sling in clothing when she was fed, changed, burped and mellow before and she was irate in seconds!) and... she fussed a bit at first, but then quieted right down and stayed content for about oh... I don't know... five plus minutes. And then when she started fussing again I shifted her to a breastfeeding position and she ate for five or more minutes before getting quite upset and needing to be removed. But hey... 10 minutes, 2 positions? This is PROGRESS. The next day she was super mellow at some point, and clothed, and I decided to try again. And... maybe 15 minutes of contentment in an upright position, moving about the house. PROGRESS. And today... mom (Mamie) and I had a big day out on the town with Caroline. We dropped off loads of stuff to the Salvation Army (thinning out the possessions given a TOTAL lack of storage in our cute little house and an increase in STUFF due to baby), meeting mom's best friend and touring the building she helped to design, going out to lunch with mom's best friend, getting my hair done (colored- a longish affair), getting a quick dinner, and then heading to a mid-week Eucharist at the Episcopal church on campus (wanted to make sure mom got to at least one Episcopal Eucharist in her time here), and then to a friend's house to pick up their extra vehicle for a recycling run tomorrow. Phew. This was almost 10 hours out and about. And she was immensely cooperative all day including... parking was such that we had a bit of a walk to the Episcopal church. Rather than carrying the heavy car seat, we opted for double swaddling her and putting her in the sling, worn by Mamie. She was SUPER content for the whole walk to the church and for the first, oh 10-15 minutes of the service in the sling on Mamie. HUGE progress. And then after church, back into the sling for the walk back to the car. She was asleep when we put her in the sling this time and she stayed so... WOW!

As if that weren't enough... a goal for this week was to figure out pumping and/or manually expressing milk and introducing the bottle so to make it possible for daddy and babysitters to feed Caroline when needed (and to give me a break occasionally... ah... don't get me wrong... I love breastfeeding, but... a break... occasionally... is welcome). We kept meaning to get around to this, but have been so busy with our house organizing and other stuff this week that it kept getting put off. But yesterday we got one of the two mechanical pumps that had been passed on to me sterilized and we gave it a try last night. Caroline was on one breast and the pump on the other. And... pfft. Pretty pathetic. Caroline was rather lazily eating and I think that was inhibiting let down on the other breast... to boot... we had, unawares, sterilized the weaker of the two pumps. It didn't feel like anything, but it was working, at least occasionally, however we only ended up with a teeny amount of milk in the collection cup before giving up. I so wanted to have at least an ounce collected so Kev could give the bottle a try. Ah well. Twas not to be yesterday.

This morning as I fed Caroline I was reading the breastfeeding chapter in the Sears book and arrived at the portion about manually expressing milk and decided to give it a try on the other breast as she ate. And... between both breasts I managed to collect an ounce... it got easier as I went along. I was hoping for two ounces, but hey... for a first attempt a whole ounce aint bad. Awhile later when Caroline was hungry again Kevin tried the bottle and... a screaming baby was soon transformed into a happily sucking baby. And Kevin was THRILLED. "Is it strange that I'm so happy about this?" He asked. NOT AT ALL. This is a BIG step. HUGE PROGRESS. And that she took a bottle on the first try?! Alleluia! (Pic of the first bottle feeding to follow later.)

Further, tonight when we got home from our busy outing the other, stronger pump was sterilized and we gave it a try as Caroline nursed on the other breast and... TWO OUNCES collected. Awhile later... screaming baby transformed into happily sucking baby as daddy fed her all two ounces in no time flat! PROGRESS CONTINUES! The stronger pump really is not all that comfortable, but... to give Kevin the joy of feeding his beautiful daughter... TOTALLY worth it. And hey, it is not like breastfeeding is always all that comfortable!

And as for the nursery... well... hauling out the Salvation Army load- progress. My sister and I bought a dresser on Craig's List a few weeks ago only to discover when we got it home that it reeked of smoke. Crap. My sister did several things to try to remove the smell. No luck. My mom has made huge efforts and... it is A LOT better. We still have a bit to do I think... but... it is tolerable now. Tolerable enough that all the clothes are (thanks again to mom's efforts) organized by sized into the drawers. We bought a pink set of cubicles in which to put some bins that we have been sorting various things into and Kev got that put together yesterday and mom has been arranging and organizing the various cubes and bins. (And there is something pink in our girl's room!) And today... THE CRIB ARRIVED! We're borrowing a crib from a member of one of our churches. It looks great. And tonight we got the crib bedding (thank you Auntie Nancy!) into the crib, the changing table set up, figured out where we're going to hang things on the wall, reorganized some things... All that remains to be done in the nursery is to hang things on the walls, get a few things out to the shed for storage so that the closet doors (behind which mom has quite well organized the closet!) can be closed, set up a fountain that dear Fran gave us years ago, hang a lovely piece over the changing table, and... eventually get some sort of valance for the window. But... friends... this is the room in which all of our unpacked boxes, and various other junk has been stored for the last six months we've lived here. Mom has diligently widdled it down. And worked miracles. By the time she leaves it will be a useable nursery. This is HUGE PROGRESS!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you, mom!

And our baby... she's making progress too. We haven't heard a laugh since the other day. But... lots more quiet alert time, lots more focus on the world (and especially the faces) around her, and lots more interactive smiling... so rewarding!

Ah... this progress feels good.

Monday, January 5, 2009

One Month!

A month ago today our blessed gift arrived... AT LONG LAST!

In the last two days, with the help of my mom, the room in which she entered the world (our bedroom), and in which we've spent the better part of the last month has been brought into much greater order. We finally got the quilt that was gifted to us by the congregation we've served upon our departure hung on our wall.

So several of Caroline's one month photos are taken in front of it. The bracelet on her wrist was handcrafted for her by a beloved friend of the congregation up north. The outfit was a gift from a dear seminary friend and her family. We are so touched by the overwhelming generosity of so many.

And especially by the overwhelming generosity of God.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First Laugh!

Three of us, the three adults in the household presently, heard it... we placed Caroline in her swing so that we could sit down to dinner. We watched as she clearly kept her eyes on the mobile spinning above her. We listened to increased babble, more vocalizing than we had heard before. We watched as a smile broke out. And then we heard it... a genuine laugh... two days shy of one month old, our girl LAUGHED!

Of course she's been grumpy since... but we want to remember this moment.

How fabulous.

Friday, January 2, 2009

4 Weeks Today!

How can nearly a month have passed already?

Enjoy just a few of the professional pictures taken yesterday! What a great way to start the new year!

The pink outfit is the one in which I came home from the hospital 32 years ago. The white dress is the baptismal gown that was made for me and that has been worn by several babies over the years, all of whom have their names stitched into the hem. It is the gown Caroline wore on Sunday.